“Praise ye the Father…give thanks for all His benefits.”
Charles Gounod’s age-old hymn, arranged by the late SM Paulette Krakowski and sung so often in past celebrations, once again reverberated from the dome and walls of the Livonia chapel through the sonorous voices of the sisters’ choir on Sunday, October 9.
Cameras, iPhones and iPads clicked away as the celebrant and eight priests bowed profoundly and exited Presentation Chapel, climaxing the 80th anniversary observance of the construction of Villa St. Felix in Livonia, Michigan.
Spearheaded by SM Serra Szalaszewicz, the committee planned festivities over several months. Huge photo books of past anniversaries lined the first floor hallway. Guest tours through the long halls and chapel areas wearied the feet and voices of the leaders as they returned several times for yet another group. Continuous video presentations of the construction of Villa St. Felix provided additional historical information along with views of the vacant property in 1935.
Friends finally gathered in DeSales Hall, greeted by the scent of warm and cold hors d’oeuvres as stories of bygone days recalled precious memories and old friendships were renewed.
The arrival of the first five Felician Sisters in Polonia, Wisconsin, in 1874 resulted in the foundation of the first American province. In 1882, the motherhouse was transferred to Detroit, Michigan. Completed in 1936, under the vigilant care of Mother Mary DeSales Tocka, the Lombardian North Italian Architecture of Villa St. Felix, was the new home of the Felician Sisters who transferred from the first provincial house on St. Aubin and Canfield in Detroit.
Through the years, the 320 acres of the Villa blossomed out to care for God’s people from birth to death with the construction of Madonna University in 1937, Ladywood High School in 1950,
St. Mary Mercy Hospital in 1959, St. Joseph Care Center in 1964, Montessori Center of Our Lady in 1976, Maryville Retreat Center in 1979, Angela Hospice in 1985, St. Mary Child Care Center in 1989, Marywood Nursing Care Center in 1991, and Senior Clergy Village in 1992.
Many of these ministries have undergone renovation and expansion and will continue to live the motto of Mother DeSales: “All for God and the good of our neighbor.”